WHATSAPP will no longer support older phones by the New Year, forcing millions of people to upgrade their handset if they want to continue using it.
The popular messaging app has over a billion users, but will stop working on certain mobiles because of changes in technology.
The company said in a blog post: "When we started WhatsApp in 2009, people's use of mobile devices looked very different from today.
"The Apple App Store was only a few months old. About 70 per cent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia.
"Mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft - which account for 99.5 per cent of sales today - were on less than 25 per cent of mobile devices sold at the time."
WhatsApp last year announced it would stop running on a variety of models, including iPhones, Android phones and Windows phones.
And as of January 1, the software will stop working on BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8.0 and older.
Support for the Nokia S40 will also stop after December 31 next year, while Android versions 2.3.7 and older will cease to function from February 1, 2020.
The company said: "This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp.
"If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone."
WHATSAPP UNDER FIRE
The news comes after Germany's competition watchdog said that Facebook was abusing its dominant position to "limitlessly" harvest user data from outside websites and apps, allowing its advertisers to target customers with hyper-specific ads.
In a preliminary assessment, the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) said it had focused its probe on the US social media giant's use of third-party sites to track users' browsing behaviour, often without their knowledge.
"The authority holds the view that Facebook is abusing this dominant position by making the use of its social network conditional on its being allowed to limitlessly amass every kind of data generated by using third-party websites," the FCO said in a statement.
These third parties include Facebook-owned services such as WhatsApp and Instagram, but also sites and apps that are less obviously linked to Facebook, often through the "like" button at the bottom of a web page.
The FCO said many users were unaware their movements on other sites were being shadowed by Facebook, and that it "can also not be assumed" that users consent to the data collection.
"Consumers must be given more control over these processes and Facebook needs to provide them with suitable options to effectively limit this collection of data," it said.
WEALTH OF INFORMATION
The data transmitted from third sources give Facebook a wealth of information about its users, from which the Silicon Valley titan benefits financially by offering targeted advertising on its website.
FCO president Andreas Mundt said the social network's advertising space was "so valuable" precisely because it has "huge amounts of personalised data at its disposal".
Facebook has over 30 million active monthly users in Germany, making it the most popular social network.
The online giant, which has also come under fire in other countries for its use of data harvesting, told AFP in an emailed response that it would reply to the FCO's questions.
But it said the preliminary report "paints an inaccurate picture", stressing that Facebook was not a dominant company and that it complied with European data protection laws.
The antitrust watchdog expects to finish its probe by mid-2018, some two years after it was launched.
The FCO does not have the power to slap Facebook with a fine, but the company can be forced to alter or even cease some of its activities.
The German scrutiny marks another setback for Facebook in Europe at a time of heightened concerns over the tracking of personal data online.
On Monday, France's data protection agency told WhatsApp it needed to obtain users' permission to transfer some information to its parent company Facebook, and gave it a month to comply.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.
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